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Updated: February 16, 2014 03:12 IST

Let us be argumentative, not intolerant, says Pranab

Madhur Tankha
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President Pranab Mukherjee and Omilanowska, Deputy Minister of Culture and National Heritage of Poland during the inaguration of New Delhi World Book Fair at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi on Saturday. Photo: R.V. Moorthy
The Hindu
President Pranab Mukherjee and Omilanowska, Deputy Minister of Culture and National Heritage of Poland during the inaguration of New Delhi World Book Fair at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi on Saturday. Photo: R.V. Moorthy

"India’s pluralism and diversity is our greatest strength"

Noting that multiple philosophies have competed with each other peacefully for centuries in our country, President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said book fairs needed to remind everyone that our history and traditions had always celebrated the argumentative Indian and not the intolerant Indian.

Inaugurating the New Delhi World Book Fair-2014 at Pragati Maidan here, Mr. Mukherjee, a known bibliophile, said Freedom of Speech was one of the most important Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

“An international book fair of this magnitude is one of the best manifestations of India’s liberal, democratic, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and secular society where competing ideas and ideologies have equal space. These values constitute the essence of India. We must do everything possible to preserve, protect, promote and nurture these ideals. India’s pluralism and social, cultural, linguistic and religious diversity is our greatest strength and a multiple source of inspiration for every Indian and that we must be uncompromising in rejecting intolerance, prejudice and hatred.”

Presiding over the function, Union Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch called on parents and teachers to inculcate book reading habit among children as the advent of digital technology had adversely affected the younger generation’s reading habit.

Mussoorie-based Ruskin Bond, who shared the dais with the President and other dignitaries, said he grew up reading Polish writer Joseph Conrad’s books. “He produced some of the greatest books ever written in the English language. So we need to honour Conrad at the ongoing book fair.”

During the inauguration, the celebrated children’s writer said a significant chapter in the Indo-Polish relationship was when the ruler of Jamnagar in Gujarat gave refuge to a large number of Polish refugees.

Looking a trifle embarrassed when his name was announced to speak to the audience comprising foreign dignitaries and children from different schools, Mr. Bond said: “I do not have any right to be here at the dais.”

Mr. Bond was the main speaker at the inauguration as the theme of the nine-day book festival is “Kathasagara: Celebrating Children's Literature”.

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President Mukherjee is right on the mark when he says that certain values constitute the essence of India. The nation should welcome various cultures. But, if a pig wallows in a mud pit, gets up, and splashes mud on passersby and on white washed walls, people do not call it art and tolerate the pig’s actions. The President goes on to say, “that we must be uncompromising in rejecting intolerance, prejudice and hatred.” Hope that the President recognizes when people reject prejudice and hatred uncompromisingly.

from:  Som Karamchetty
Posted on: Feb 18, 2014 at 10:07 IST

Freedom of expression, freedom of speech etc. are just great but at price ? That is
the question. Wendy Doniger might very well be a highly Western qualified
individual but she has no business in derogatory interpretation of Hinduism.
for these Harvard and Oxford qualified individuals, Hinduism still means
WORSHIPPERS OF SNAKES, RATS & rope tricks. Why can't they interpret their own
religion ? Can such a book be written by Wendy on ISLAM? Khomeini issued a
DEATH fatwa against another writer Salman Rushdie. Why can't these
great writers find some other subject to write about and get famous & rich ?
They all want quick rewards. So is the case of the so called great Muslim artist
who drew Goddess Saraswathi in the nude ! Perverted mind ! To top it all, Indian
Hindus in India are pleading their cases and shouting loudly about how India is so
intolerant. This same intolerant country tolerated poor Zorashtrians persecuted by
the Muslim rulers of Iran. They are the Parsis.

from:  Krishna
Posted on: Feb 17, 2014 at 17:30 IST

I agree with President Mukherjee "Let us be argumentative, not intolerant". And in the case of Wendy and her Publisher Penguin i find that they both were intolerant to their critics. Rather than arguing their point legally they surrendered shamelessly. And now they and fake liberals sympathetic to them want to hide their embarrassment by blaming the law, and claiming that sales of the book has increased etc.
But the fact is that a “84 year old right wing fringe retired school teacher” has legally and morally defeated a large Publishing house, an overrated foreign writer, an union Minister and lots of fake Indian liberals single handedly.
And the funniest part is that these fake Indian liberals have no place to hide....:)


from:  Praveen Nair
Posted on: Feb 17, 2014 at 14:52 IST

It is strange that the Hon'ble President did not remember that the
Central Government banned Salman Rushdie's book. Without banning that
book the Government could have kept quiet giving room for intellectual
thoughts like those of Arundati Roy, Ramachandra Guha and so on.
Offense meant to any religion is wrong and it is not that Hindus can be
castigated by perverted minds so that the spirit of tolerance of Hindus
could be taken for granted. The book in question was offensive and it
has taken more than 4 years for the publisher to come to terms. Any
book that offends any religion or talks ill of any religion must be

from:  Sivakumar T
Posted on: Feb 16, 2014 at 23:02 IST

I completely agree. if this was a book with reference to Christianity or muslim, by
now there would have been chaos around the world. This culture of tolerance has led
to defamation and wrong notion of hindus. I think it is high time Hindus expressed
their dis-satisfaction against authors such as the one we are all alluding to. Let them
use the power of their pen to criticize their own origin. Please don't publish such
books to undermine one religion, let their be a level playing field, and if this
tolerance needs to be practised by hindus why not other religions? first let's get that
math straight.

from:  John Bennet
Posted on: Feb 16, 2014 at 22:35 IST

With all due respect to Hon' President, who said their was no legitimate
argumentation, people in indian diaspora have challenged wendy doniger's
books, but they are not heard at all. If one does not engage in argument
courts are the last recourse.

from:  ashwathama
Posted on: Feb 16, 2014 at 11:15 IST

If mother criticises her child or a friend criticises to his another friend in both the
cases child and another friend, most of the times, don't get offended. Why? Because
They are tolerant and tolerance is the symbol of being liberal.Why cannot we increase
the dimension of this sphere of tolerance to the level of society and nation? Tolerance
gives us the opportunity to digest the criticism first and to understand the different
perspective behind it. Ultimately it brings out the best out of us provided we act
reasonably. I hope knowledge will convert into a better democratic force and will take
it into every corner of the country.

from:  VINAY
Posted on: Feb 15, 2014 at 23:05 IST

Sir, we agree . As long as the author/s do not cross the limit of
insulting other religions and other faiths. If the same book is
published against Muslim , he would have been issued a Fatwa and death
threat. They know Hindus are peace loving and do not go violent ad
that is the reason Muslims and Christian invaded India and ruled for
500 + years. This religion is always subjected to this type of BS by
so called authors . some body paints a nude Goddess and say it is art.
stop this double talk. Any book or article should respect other
religions, faiths and practices.

from:  Sam
Posted on: Feb 15, 2014 at 18:31 IST

Why not the politicians "shut-up" and open eyes to see the reality?

from:  Mikki
Posted on: Feb 15, 2014 at 18:30 IST
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